5 Worst Mistakes to Make When Losing Weight And Building Muscle
Achieving weight loss results and muscle gain progress at the same time is perfectly possible. Building strong lean muscle mass while burning away fat isn’t easy, but it is achievable with discipline and perseverance.
Of course having the right fuel for your body is essential to achieving your goals, regardless of how often you lift weights and train at the gym. Which is why we offer our perfectly balanced meal prep plans, which are full of nutritious and delicious meals, made-fresh and delivered straight to your door.
Keep in mind that although losing weight and building muscle is possible at the same time, it’s very unlikely you’ll be doing both at the same rate. Building muscle is a slower process and shedding fat. However, the benefit is that with more muscle mass the more calories you’ll actually burn, even when you’re at rest.
Unfortunately, there are some mistakes that many people make when trying to either lose weight or build muscle, and we wanted to go through 5 of the biggest…
#1 – Not including enough protein in your diet
Protein is essential for weight loss and muscle gain, not to mention hugely important for many functions in the body. Packing plenty of protein into your diet can help you feel fuller and reduce your appetite, which in turn decreases your calorie intake.
Also, protein is very important for the process of muscle building, called ‘muscle protein synthesis’. This process kicks into action when you workout, as you’ll be breaking down muscle fibers with microscopic tears. They will then repair and build back bigger, but this can’t happen effectively without an adequate protein supply.
You’ll also need to consume plenty of protein in order to increase your metabolic rate and protect muscle mass during weight loss. So, aim to include around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight in your diet. If you weigh around 150 pounds, that means you’ll need to consume around 120 grams each day.
Prep Perfect athlete Leon Williams, had this to say:
“You only have to look in the media today to see the hype around protein, from skin care, hair care, even cereals and chocolate bars getting on the ‘added protein’ hype… It’s all for good reason, protein has a wealth of benefits. It helps muscle recovery, growth, and reduces risk of chronic disease. Plus, a diet which is higher in protein leaves you satiated, stopping any unnecessary over eating.”
#2 – Not getting enough sleep
When it comes to muscle gain, having a distinct lack of sleep is going to seriously derail any progress you hope to make. No matter how much working out you do, and nutrition you fill your body with, depriving yourself of sleep will prevent your body from repairing and recovering properly.
The same applies to weight loss too, as not getting enough minutes of quality sleep will prevent your metabolism functioning properly. This is because a lack of shut-eye affects our nightly hormones, in particular ghrelin and leptin.
Essentially ghrelin is the hormone that encourages you to eat, and leptin tells you to do the opposite. Without enough sleep, your body produces more of the former, which means you’ll be more tempted to reach for some snacks throughout the day. Soon a vicious cycle will be created, where sleep deprivation will sabotage your waistline and your muscle mass.
Aim for around 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night in order to lose that fat and build bigger, stronger muscles more effectively.
“I work nights so I have first hand proof of the effects of lack of sleep on the body and performance. For four nights a week I get around 5-6 hours sleep, and I noticed a daily increase in weight (possibly down to extra water retention), workout performance slowly started to diminish, strength dropped and cardio time slowed. Also, focus and concentration was completely off.”
“With proper sleep, I noticed; increased attention and concentration, strength was back to a level where each session I felt I could push for personal bests. With a better substantial sleep of 8 hours plus, my digestion also improved, and my body regulated nutrients better, leading to weight loss if that’s what I’m trying to achieve.”
#3 – Not lifting enough, or lifting too much, too fast
Including resistance training as part of your workouts is incredibly important to really see the best weight loss results. And of course, lifting weights is one of the most effective exercise strategies for muscle gain, as well as for increasing your metabolic rate. Weight lifting is also great at improving your overall body composition and very effective at helping you lose belly fat.
It’s really important to make sure that your workouts are challenging you. A good way to see if you’re lifting a heavy enough weight, is to test whether you can do over 20 reps without needing a break. If you can, then it’s time to increase the intensity. Lift a weight that is challenging, so that you can’t do over 10 to 15 reps without eventually losing good form.
On the other hand, if you’re struggling to do just 4 or 5 reps, then you might be lifting too heavy. For building lean muscle mass, you’ll ideally want to aim for at least 10 to 15 reps. Don’t forget that the pace at which you lift is also important. As your muscles need time under tension, because this allows your muscle fibers to get the full resistance necessary to start the muscle building process. You want your sets of 10 to 15 reps to last for at least 30 to 45 seconds to achieve this.
#4 – Exercising too much
Yes this may sound strange, because although exercise is essential for preventing your metabolism from slowing down, boosting fat loss and minimising the amount of lean mass you lose; over-exercising can still cause problems.
If you constantly over-do things when working out, not only is this unsustainable in the long term, it can also lead to increased levels of stress. Training breaks your muscle tissue down, ready for it to be repaired afterwards. By training too often, you’ll deprive your body of the rest time it needs to make these repairs. This in turn increases stress hormones and can even suppress your immune system, leading to injuries and sickness.
Don’t try and force your body to burn more fat and build more muscle by exercising too much, as this is neither effective nor healthy. Instead, sticking to a schedule of lifting weights and doing cardio a few times a week is a much more sustainable strategy.
#5 – Missing out on nutrients with low-fat or “diet” foods
Fad diets that promote processed, low-fat or “diet” foods are nothing new. Unfortunately, they are often considered good choices for losing weight, but they may actually have the opposite effect. This is because many of these foods are often loaded with sugar in order to boost their taste.
Instead of keeping you full, these types of foods are actually more likely to leave you feeling hungry. So naturally you just end up eating more anyway. Steer clear of low-fat or “diet” foods, and the fad diets that promote them, and instead choose a combination of nutritious, minimally processed foods.
Speaking of nutrients, don’t forget that although you may already be eating a good amount of carbs and protein, you’ll still need all the micronutrients that are important for muscle growth. Being deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, can easily hamper your progress.
Therefore you must make sure that you consume a good amount of fruit and veg. Ideally, aim for double digit servings of non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruit each day, and adding a multivitamin supplement to your meal prep won’t hurt either.
If you are looking to lose weight and build muscle, then make life easier by choosing our 28-day muscle gain meal plan. This way you can train hard at the gym, knowing you’re getting the delicious, protein filled fuel you need to succeed. Or if you’re just planning to shed some fat, our 28-day weight loss meal plan can help you reach your goals, with tasty recipes designed to help you lose weight and never leave you bored or wondering what to eat.